Washington Wizards: Breaking down the play-in tournament possibilities

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /

The postseason is here, and the Washington Wizards are officially a part of the fun. The Wizards finished the season with the eighth-best record in the East. After a rocky start to the season, the play-in seemed like a saving grace, the only way the Wizards would reach the postseason. However, they actually would have made the playoffs if we were living in a pre-play-in society.

It’s a testament to the no-quit attitude that this Wizards team has displayed all season. When they were 17-32, 12th in the Eastern Conference, and seemingly without a playoff prayer, the Wizards never faltered. The playoffs remained the goal. And they finished the season 17-6 to make sure they had a chance to achieve that goal.

However, although the Wizards are in the postseason, they aren’t exactly in the playoffs. So there’s still work to do, and there is more than one way they can make it happen. Luckily, every possible play-in opponent has a weakness the Wizards can exploit.

The Washington Wizards are in the postseason, but not the playoffs. They’re nearly there, but anything could happen in the play-in tournament.

The play-in tournament starts May 18, and the Washington Wizards will take on the Boston Celtics in a matchup that pits the seventh and eighth seed against each other in a ‘win and you’re in’ game. The Wizards won one of their three games vs. Boston this season. The ninth and tenth seeds will also play, and the winner of that game will play the loser of the Wizards/Celtics game to determine which team will be the last to clinch a playoff birth.

The simplest way for the Wizards to ensure their season doesn’t end in the play-in tournament is to win vs. Boston. If they can do that, the Wizards will end up as the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed and will have the privilege of taking on the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA’s biggest juggernaut, in the first round of the playoffs.

If the Wizards lose to the Celtics, they aren’t out of it though. The Wizards would have one final shot to punch their playoff ticket in a game against the winner of the Hornets/Pacers game. If it comes to it, the Wizards would be better off playing the Pacers in that situation instead of the Hornets. The Wizards swept Indiana this season while they needed a double-digit comeback in the fourth quarter to get their only win vs. Charlotte.

In a way, the Wizards need to win at least one of their next two games to guarantee they make the playoffs. If they beat Boston, they’re in and will face Brooklyn in the team’s first playoff series since 2018. The Wizards went 2-1 vs. Brooklyn this season. If they lose to Boston, then they must beat the winner of Hornets/Pacers. If they come away with that victory, then they’ll match up with the East’s top seed, the Philadelphia 76ers, in round one of the playoffs. The Wizards lost all three of their games against Philadelphia this season.

The only thing they can’t do is lose each of their next two games.

dark. Next. One weakness the Wizards can exploit vs. each play-in team